Heat Factor: After a very sexy night in Vegas, it takes a couple episodes before they get busy again, but when they do, it gets kinky
Character Chemistry: I’m a sucker for “the grumpy jerk is secretly soft for the vulnerable sweetheart”
Plot: Will and Patrick wake up married, and they can’t just be unmarried because Will’s charitable trust is financed by his mob family who requires that the scions marry for love and forever
Overall: It’s a long ‘un, but I didn’t want to stop reading.
I love a woke up married trope, and I read a lot of M/M romance, so this one has been on my TBR for a while. I was also curious about it because it’s set in South Dakota, where almost no books are set, and where I grew up. So that’s where I’m starting from.
Now that I’ve completed the series, my primary takeaways might be that
- This is maybe medium angst
- It’s really long, but I don’t recall a lot of saggy or slow bits
- Probably because some of the plot is absolutely bonkers (so if that’s not your jam, be aware)
- I probably wouldn’t give it a wholehearted recommendation, because there were some things that made me give a little side-eye, but overall it was fun, enjoyable, and I had no trouble sticking with it.
Now, for each episode, here are my real-time post reading comments.
Episode One: Will & Patrick Wake Up Married
In classic “Woke up in Vegas married” trope fashion, we begin the tale with Will waking up with a massive hangover and a sore rump while a lithe ginger snores on his chest. It takes us almost no time at all to learn several things:
- Will and Patrick met for the first time last night.
- Will is an alcoholic.
- Will got dumped by his signs-point-to-toxic boyfriend last night.
- Patrick is an asshole.
- Patrick’s probably an asshole because of trauma from his childhood. And also he’s an exceptionally talented neurosurgeon with no modesty at all.
These two men have no desire to be married, Will because he’s in love with his increasingly obviously toxic ex, and Patrick because he’s basically Dr. Strange and withers at the prospect of feelings. The trouble is that Will is a scion of a mafia family, and the family trust that he’s been using to fund a charitable health organization will be revoked if he ends his marriage. Because Patrick was a real jackass with his boss, he no longer needs to go home to Atlanta, so he grudgingly goes to South Dakota with Will while they try to deal with the mafia issues and end the marriage in such a way that Will doesn’t lose everything.
Basically, Will and Patrick got married because they made bad decisions while under the influence, and they’re staying married because of completely ludicrous but completely reasonable within the context of the story Reasons.
Episode Two: Will & Patrick Meet the Family
Nobody’s handling this marriage very well.
Actually, that’s not true; half the town thinks Patrick’s a bad seed and the other half thinks the spontaneous elopement is romantic, but Patrick is not pleased that he’ll be in South Dakota indefinitely (at least until he gets free rein over the neurosurgery department at Will’s hospital, which makes him much happier to stay), Will’s mom and ex are being unpleasant about the situation, and Will is trying to coast on keeping everyone happy and doing his job until they can undo his marriage without him losing everything.
Couple things here:
- Patrick is one of those people who kind of deliberately has no filter because he’s got his porcupine quills straight up all the time to keep everyone away, BUT he loves children (we know this because he makes friends with a single mom after arguing with her about donuts at the coffee shop), and he’s incredibly caring about Will’s health and well-being (we know this because he pays more attention to Will’s diabetes than Will or anyone in Will’s life does).
- Will’s ex was (and is) emotionally abusive to Will, but because Will is an alcoholic he believes he deserves it, and everyone else sees the behavior as Ryan taking care of Will. Because of this, Will has really NO meaningful support system in his network of family or small town friends.
- Will’s ex, Ryan, IS A THERAPIST. Are you kidding me? YIIIIIIIKES.
- Also, Ryan is a HUGE kink shamer. Slash just a sex shamer. His energy is terrible and I do not like him.
- Will’s mother is wildly over-involved in his life, and I have a feeling that Patrick’s take-no-bullshit approach to his own interpersonal relationships will be eye-opening for Will.
At the end of this second episode, I can tell you that the fictional Healing, South Dakota is full of interesting characters with a variety of problems, and the mafia plot is maybe just bananas enough to hold us.
Episode Three: Will & Patrick Do the Holidays
Who doesn’t love a family holiday? The intimacy is building! Patrick’s fears bubble up when he has to make nice with Will’s family, because what if he does something wrong!? And it’s too bad interfering family members keep stirring the pot and bringing Ryan back into Will’s sphere. Here’s Patrick realizing that he’s:
- Having gooey feelings and
- Watching Ryan abuse Will and can’t do much because Will just takes it.
I will also say that it’s pretty upsetting that:
- Will’s mother and uncle keep pressuring Will to be in a relationship with his ex and
- Ryan tells Will that his desire for sex is disgusting and
- Will very nearly falls off the wagon.
On the other hand, the sex returns for our emotionally confused protagonists, and it is fab-u-lous.
Episode Four: Will & Patrick Fight Their Feelings
Alright, we’ve arrived at the fun part when the emotionless grump internally admits he’s caught feelings but then his love interest says, “I’m so glad we’re friends with bennies and nothing more,” and he’s completely crushed.
This episode includes:
- Babysitting an adorable baby,
- Playing house (and lots of sex),
- Confessions of past traumas and other hurt/comfort moments,
- A medical malpractice lawsuit, and
- Will’s mob family leaving us on a cliffhanger.
Episode Five: Will & Patrick Meet the Mob
So, I’m completely convinced that Will needs to go no contact with his mother. She’s a real piece of work.
Fortunately, Will really shows his newly acquired backbone when his father arrives in town and threatens Patrick in a variety of questionable ways, including by taking his mother to task for being an interfering @#$!. That said, it’s fair that she struggles to trust her alcoholic son who is diabetic and, until this point, has fallen off the wagon constantly. How she deals with that is… Whew. Yikes.
Also, we have arrived at the portion of the romance in which everyone else can see that Will and Patrick are in love, but they refuse to believe it about each other because they’re scared and pining. Good stuff.
Episode Six: Will & Patrick’s Happy Ending
How do we feel about third—I mean sixth—act breakups? Like, the fact that the divorce is possible should have been visible from act one, right? So it’s not a surprise that it’s coming?
Look, on the one hand, I am always really skeptical of “breaks” to “get my head straight” because there are so many ways to process what’s happening in one’s life without completely blowing it up. On the other hand, in this case, Will is a recovering alcoholic, he’s been sober for just months, it hasn’t been easy, and he fell straight from his long-term abusive relationship with his college partner into this high-inducing romance with Patrick. It is honestly not unreasonable that Will needs to figure out his own personal headspace without Patrick figuring into his decision making.
I would argue that a number of things happen in this episode that probably really needed to happen (Will’s really been kicking the can of his life down the road for most of the story), but reader mileage may vary depending on how much you’re willing to allow Will to be a sloppy mess before getting his head together and trusting himself and Patrick. In terms of third-act breakups, it’s really not a bad one—there’s not just unilateral decision-making combined with a lack of communication here—but after the first five episodes, it still might miss for some readers.
Some additional notes on the content
- There’s some language in here that I didn’t love. Beyond a little bit of the usual ableist stuff, there’s, for example, Will’s “murse” for all his diabetes-related needs. Because, you know, purses are gendered, and we can’t just call it a “bag.” Or there are a few references to Will as Patrick’s “bride” which are definitely playful but also…bleh.
- The town of Healing is right next to a Reservation, and that figures into the story relatively frequently, and in such a way that rang true to me as a former South Dakotan. In fact, the people of Healing were probably much more inclusive than most of the rural South Dakotans I’ve known. But then there’s also that ever-presence of the Reservation when maybe all the drama doesn’t need to be there? When I was a kid, there were plenty of people being fantastically irresponsible with fireworks, for example, and they were just farm kids, no Reservation required.
- The way Patrick talked about autism wasn’t the greatest. Partly that’s Patrick being his usual self, but also his removing himself from “those autistic people” because he’s verbal, etc. was unnecessary. It doesn’t figure in hugely, but it crops up.
- I can’t remember which episode it started in (four?), but Will likes it kinky, so there’s breath play, spankings, and role-play, along with maybe a smattering of other kinky sexytimes. It worked well for these characters, but I know kink isn’t always for everyone, so head’s up.
- Will ultimately decides that AA is not for him. The text doesn’t really say it’s bad, but it definitely has negative baggage for Will, probably partially because of the way his ex was so militant about it. I felt like a lot of the conversations surrounding Will’s alcoholism were nuanced, and everyone had the goal of taking steps to stay successfully sober, but it’s possible it might not feel right for some readers.
In terms of “woke up married” books that take you for a ride, this one was pretty good! The depth of the characters’ problems gave their story heft, and they were balanced even though their problems were very different. I also read Will & Patrick’s Endless Honeymoon, and I liked that as the ending for these two (fair warning, though, it’s totally bananas), but the ending of the six episode series was also satisfying. I think (I hope) that some of the stuff I didn’t care for is simply the story showing its age. Overall a net positive reading experience here.
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